Article written by: Rhonda Jackson
Dear daddy, why weren’t you here when I needed you?
I was your daughter who grew into a woman, and you missed it. The question I never got to ask before you died, “Why did you leave me?” And now my heart bleeds tears because you left again, but this time, for good.
Thinking back as far as I can remember, you made me feel like a special little girl, which is why I always enjoyed being with you. Those days when you picked me up to spend the day at the mechanic shop were priceless. It’s not a place where I wanted to be, but it meant the world because I was with you. Although, I had no clue what you were doing, it made me happy just to be near you as your voice touched my heart. “Hey, my Shelly Bell,” you would say. Just that thought is bringing a tear to my eye right now; and you were so funny, almost silly, like people have called me. All I knew was that I was with you, and you loved me. It was the best time ever.
Then suddenly and without warning, everything changed. Your face, I saw less and less. Your voice, I only heard once in a while. Daddy, you slowly disappeared from my life without a word or explanation, and I hated not seeing you. But, I was hopeful one day you would come to get me. Did I forget to say, I loved hearing your voice; especially, when you’d call me by that special nickname. It was difficult to understand why you were not there. Where were you?
Daddy, I was so angry at you for staying away from us. We needed you…I needed you. You missed so many special days when we were growing up: birthdays, proms, and graduations. During those years, I remained hopeful. So much so, whenever our families gathered together, I looked for you and thought maybe, just maybe, you would make an appearance. Sometimes, you would show up, but more often than not, you wouldn’t. And I probably will never have that void filled. Sadly, you have moved on to our heavenly father, and I will never hear your voice again. I will never see your face, and I will never get an answer to my question, “Why did you leave me?” So daddy, I want you to know, I forgive you.
Those are the things I wanted to say to my dad, and I finally got it out. Although he couldn’t hear it, my load is lighter; whereby, I have come to acceptance.
How many of you have struggled with not having your father in your life? How did it impact you?
- Did you have problems with relationships or men?
- Did you have problems with feeling abandoned?
- Did you have problems with communication?
- Did it make you feel insecure?
- Did you blame yourself or your family?
Whatever you may have dealt with, whether you know it or not, has contributed to who you are today and how you look at men.
Here are 5 things I think will be helpful to understand and start the process of healing the relationship with your father, as you learn to forgive him. I hope you will find these suggestions beneficial.
- Understand, your father is human and he isn’t perfect. None of us are for that matter. So often we forget, we all make mistakes, and probably regret some of the things we have done in our lives. With that in mind, we will never understand why other people, especially people who are close to us, make the choices they make like… leave us. With that considered, it is not our place to hold our father accountable for the choices he made and his lack of presence. God will hold him accountable.
- Understand, he loves you despite his actions. Love means something different to each of us, and there are different levels of love in a relationship. Realize that people can only love to their capabilities and understanding. On the other hand, people’s actions mirror their thoughts. So, if a person doesn’t possess the skills or knowledge to love, then he or she will never be able to show love in the way we expect them to love us. Therefore, when you think about your father’s actions, give him the benefit of the doubt that he is incapable of showing love in your way. Don’t hold it against him, for your sake.
- Understand, he may have wounds from his past that have never been healed. There are times in our lives we would love to forget, maybe because of things we may have experienced in our past that have disrupted our lives, in such a way, that has immobilized our thoughts and feelings. Keep in mind, wounds break spirits, and broken spirits break hearts, and broken hearts break relationships. Therefore, it is impossible to connect to a broken person in a way that’s pleasing to you until that person can be healed. But in the meantime, continue to love them, just as they are. The same way, God loves us… just as we are. Love your father, anyway.
- Don’t be judgmental. It is not fair to him nor yourself. It is not our place to judge. Where would we be if God judged us for all the things we have done in our lives, and then, held us accountable? So many of us would be shocked and disappointed to find out where we would be in God. It is never fair to judge people, so, we should definitely practice more understanding and forgiveness. When we are able to forgive people for their lack of presence or love, we can and will become stronger within ourselves. It is so important that we not become the judge and the jury against people because that is not our place.
As in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.“
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Therefore, release yourself from the judging of your father, so as not to disrupt your life; and at the same time, do not be the jury in his life. Peace is always better than chaos. Hence, do not judge your father.
- Be thankful for having him in your life, even if it’s not as much as you would like. One thing we cannot do is to control another person’s actions. We can only be held accountable for our own. That’s why, we should not focus on the negatives of a relationship with our father, but rather, on the positives. When we do so, we will learn it contributes to the betterment of our health, mind, body and spirit. Keep in mind, there are some father’s who are there part-time, then there are those who never show up. What’s important to remember is you have no control over the ones missing in action, but what you can control is your response to the ones who show up sometimes. Although, he may not show up as much as you want, learn to love him anyway. In fact, give him the benefit of the doubt that he is doing the best he can, and be thankful for the times when he does show up. As long as you do your part, you will appreciate that you gave it your all, which will help give you peace should the unforeseen happen, and he is no longer here on earth. With that said, thank God for the moments you do have with your father because tomorrow is not promised to you or him.
The bottom line, remember to love your father because the time we have with one another is shorter than we think. Trust me, I know, because I lost my father suddenly. And, for those fathers who are missing in action, just find the strength and compassion to pray for them. The important thing is that you find peace within you.
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